“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, nor let a rich man boast of his riches. But let him who boasts boast of this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness on earth, for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.” (Jer. 9:23-24)
Yes, we all know there are many names for God. And who He is truly is, is certainly wrapped up in those “thoughts and ways as high above ours as the heavens above the earth,” but let’s get down to simplicity for a moment, shall we? In 2nd Corinthians 11, Paul expressed concern we could be “led away from the simplicity that is in Christ.” He said the evil one would come, as he did to Eve, to complicate the simple commands of God and thus deceive and beguile us. We can see from this the substance of what God wants us to believe about Him is not complicated. Brilliant, awesome, incredible, and amazing, yes! But not complicated. He is not the God of confusion, but of a sound mind.
Jeremiah 9 above puts all this simplicity in clear focus, when he quotes God as saying of Himself that He is, simply, three characteristics [attributes, qualities, elements: however you wish to put it]: love, judgement, and righteousness. I’m not going to focus on the OT, because I don’t think there would be any argument the Father displays all these attributes over and over again there. However, my concern is what many have made of Jesus in the NT, when there is equally abundant evidence there nothing at all has changed.
Beginning with love [Hebrew word “checed” meaning kindness, favor, mercy, pity], who could argue that point? Paul says the three greatest attributes we can display in this life are “faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13), and twice John says plainly, “God is love” (1 John 4). The Bible tells us, in perhaps its most famous verse of all, “For God so loved the world He sent His Son…” (John 3). In His last act on the cross, prior to yielding up His Spirit, Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do,” an act of supreme love given He was talking about those who, only hours earlier, were calling for a murderer to be released in favor of having Him crucified. No argument Jesus, as did His Father, displayed abundant evidence He was the God of love.
Let’s discuss attribute #3 from Jeremiah next, for I don’t think there would be too much resistance to the idea Jesus is the God of righteousness [Hebrew word “tsedaqah,” meaning rightness, true, moral virtue, justice] either. In Isaiah 53 and Acts 3,7, and 22 Jesus is referred to as “the Righteous One,” and Psalms 11 says the Lord is righteous and loves righteousness. 1st Corinthians 1 tells us Jesus became to us righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and 1st John 3 tells us those who practice righteousness are righteous just as He is righteous. Perhaps one of the most oft-proclaimed statements Jesus made was, “Seek first His [My] kingdom, and His [My] righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6). 2nd Corinthians 9 summarizes well by saying His righteousness endures forever. Furthermore, Jesus passes that righteousness on to all who truly believe, for Paul tells us the righteousness of God comes to all who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3), and that righteousness was credited to Abraham, and indeed to all who believe, because of faith in God (Rom. 4). The Book of Romans is literally filled with references to the righteousness imparted to us through faith in the Righteous One, Jesus Christ. But again, you won’t encounter much resistance when you want to talk about Jesus as the Righteous One.
Ah, but then we get to the one of the three that will engender a lot of blow-back in modern Christianity, the truth that Jesus is the God of judgement [Hebrew word “mishpat”: to sentence, verdict pronounced judicially, decree of divine law]. The fact that so many ignore this today is disturbing because there is abundant proof of it in the NT as well as the OT. While disturbing, it is also understandable for two reasons. First, under the doctrine of cheap grace embraced in modern teaching over the past 50 years or so, the omnipotent character of our almighty King of kings and Lord of lords has been reduced to little more than love, grace, and mercy. Our Jehovah Sabaoth, Lord of powers [all of them, not just some] has been neutered for the sake of our comforts. Second, up until now we have lived under a dispensation of grace, so we haven’t witnessed this side of our Savior. Generations have come and gone who have never experienced a nation or a church under judgement. Oh, but that is now changing!
As I pointed out in in 2018 my blog series, Who Yo Daddy [see The awakened Christian man.org blog page], the truth is Jesus will be the only One of the Father, Son, and Spirit assigned the right to judge mankind, and this because He uniquely was The Son of Man and the Son of God. He uniquely came from the Godhead and experienced, and overcame, all the trials and temptations of life in the flesh. Therefore, He alone understood fully the state of man as He stood in the gap between heaven and earth to reconcile the two. In John 5, Jesus boldly proclaims “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” He goes on to explain why, “And He [the Father] gave Him [Jesus] authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” He then goes on to explain what this judgement will mean, “All who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth—those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life and those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
This fact that Jesus will be the sole Judge of mankind, sending some on to life eternal and some on to damnation eternal, is confirmed in several places in Revelations. First, there are Jesus’ messages to the churches, wherein He promises both blessing and judgment. Then there is the scene in heaven in Revelations 5, where the Father, seated on the throne, is holding a sealed book “no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth” is able to open. The Father is in heaven and holding the book, yet even He is not able to open it. Then, as John is weeping because of this situation, an elder points out there is indeed One in heaven who is able: “A Lamb standing as if slain.” Here He was, the Son of Man, crucified, and because of that He alone will be found worthy!
Finally, beginning in Revelations 19, we see a Jesus we’ve never faintly witnessed coming from heaven on a white stallion, eyes a flame of fire, robe dipped in blood, leading the armies of heaven to make war on the earth! This leads to the judgment first of the powers of darkness and then finally to all flesh in Revelations 20. How could anyone look at the abundant evidence to Jesus being the Judge of heaven and earth and fail to believe it? It could only be called choosing ignorance over truth. And make no mistake, when truth and grace collide truth wins every time! Truth will win over false grace in one extreme, just as it wins over legalism in the other. The truth is God is who He said He was in Jeremiah, and no amount of belief in grace will change that.
So, why is it so important we fully embrace the Judge? Because it will restore to His church the characteristic it so sorely lacks to prepare it for the times to come: a healthy fear of Him! In a parallel verse to Jeremiah 9, Isaiah says when prophesying of the Messiah to come, “And there shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse…The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes nor decide by the hearing of His ears, but with righteousness He shall judge…He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins…” (Isa. 11). We see in this passage the three characteristics God delights in revealed in Jeremiah: lovingkindness, while not specifically stated, is seen in understanding and counsel, along with judgment and righteousness seen throughout the passage. And what will the Son delight in, as the Father delighted in the three in Jeremiah? The fear of the Lord!
A people who fear God do not sink to the depths of sin, worldliness, the love of money, apathy and lukewarmth that have so come to identify His people today, at least here in America. We are, indeed, the Church of Laodicea (Rev. 3). Those who “work out their salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil. 2), and “conduct themselves in fear while on this earth” (1 Pet. 1) understand the Judge, and know they will be judged according to their faith, their love, their works, and their words. Remember, Jesus said all judgment had been given Him “that they should honor [esteem to the highest degree] the Son.” To fear God means to put Him on the Bema Seat [the seat where Christ will judge all flesh] of life now, and to hold Him in reverence above any other person, thing, or circumstance! Though it sounds contrary to everything we think of when we hear the word, “fear,” nowhere in the Bible will you find the fear of God being anything but positive, constructive, edifying and good! That being said, you might want to look up what it says about those who don’t fear God.
Yes, we are to fully embrace the God of lovingkindness, forgiveness, and grace. And we are also to seek first Jesus’ kingdom and His righteousness. But it would be foolishness, particularly in these days where I believe realm is arising against realm, signifying the beginning of the birth pangs, to ignore embracing fully, and fearing fully the Son of Man: the Lamb who was slain, who will judge each and every one of us, sending many to an eternity of torment, “weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness.” And isn’t this the ultimate expression of love for those who believe and follow Him? to “separate the wheat from the chaff” and take them out an evil world and into His magnified blessing forever? How could we appreciate reward if we do not also understand punishment? Make no mistake, the Lamb is about to lay down that the Lion may roar, and the Savior is about to hand His gavel to the Judge. These are the times we are living in, and time to do what Jesus said we are to do: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear—fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke 12)!
In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of a time when tribulation will come upon believers, a time when “many will fall away” from the faith. I believe that will be due, in large part, to the false Jesus we have preached, taught, and believed in for so many years: a Jesus who never judges anyone and is incapable of anything but love. As earth is judged and our comfortable, safe, secure lives are shattered, many will deny the Jesus they never knew nor were taught. But Jesus is not dictated to by times or events, cultures, false teachings, or our feelings. As Paul tells us in a widely misinterpreted passage used to deny Jesus the Judge in favor of Jesus the forgiver of all, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2). Jesus is forever true to Himself, not to faithless people who deny Him in the fruit of their lives. And who He is will forever be who He was, is, and is to be revealed as: the God who is lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness!